YONKERS, N.Y. – In the spirit of Pope Francis’ historic stateside visit to the East Coast this week, hundreds of volunteers with Habitat for Humanity of Westchester are heeding the pontiff’s words to help those in need, teaming for a build-a-thon in Yonkers to help erect a proper home for an Army veteran.
To celebrate the pontiff’s visit to New York, Habitat CEO Jim Killoran and his loyal flock of volunteers announced a one-week marathon building, cleaning and clearing event to prepare a formerly foreclosed house on High Street that was anonymously donated to Habitat.
When the property is fully renovated and up to Habitat’s standards, it will be occupied by U.S. Army Sgt. Michael Velazquez and his family, housing six people in total.
The build-a-thon kicked off in earnest last week, and is set to conclude on Saturday. It is expected that Velazquez will be able to move into the Pope Francis House – dedicated and named for the pontiff months before the papal visit was announced – as soon as December.
Officials with Habitat said that it was important to celebrate Pope Francis for his outreach efforts to the needy, poor and other disenfranchised parties.
“Habitat for Humanity supports the common goal while bringing together volunteers from all walks of life who understand Pope Francis’ words that work confers dignity,” Yonkers City Council President Liam McLaughlin stated.
Several local organizations, schools and universities from throughout Westchester County lent their expertise and volunteers to the cause. The build-a-thon will continue through the weekend, culminating with a blessing and dedication of the formerly foreclosed home at noon on Saturday featuring the volunteers that accepted the call to action.
“Hundreds of volunteers are currently building to celebrate Pope Francis’ visit in the theology of the hammer. We challenge everyone to pick u a hammer and build with us throughout the year,” Killoran said. “We are blessed to have the pope visit New York. His mission to help those in poverty and his love of the environment is at the heart of our mission; to help everyone live in a green neighborhood.”
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